PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 3, 2003


Approval of the Minutes of September 3, 2003: Mr. Grosso noted that page 3, paragraph 4 should read "in the capital planning budget".
Mrs. Kelly moved to accept the minutes as amended. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 5-0, with Mr. Levine abstaining.


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, September 3, 2003 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Michael Clancy, John Davis, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Buck O'Neill, and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Russell Strover, Naturalist, Jim Ott, Planning Commission Liaison and Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director.

Call to Order

Acting as chairman, Joel Grosso called the meeting to order at 7:30PM

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of August 6, 2003. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

Mr. Grosso explained that Chairman Andrew Levine was unable to attend the meeting because of illness and had asked that discussion of the Community Center Feasibility Report be postponed to the October meeting.

Old Business

Clark Nature Center

Mr. Strover reported that he had been working with a number of Eagle Scouts to put together projects for the Nature Center. He said that he would provide the Board with a map of existing trails on the property to help with discussion of some of the trail projects being considered by the scouts.

Mr. Wert provided the Board with copies of a lease agreement between the Township and PECO for use of an 8.643-acre parcel along the PECO power lines at the southern boundary of the Clark Nature Center. He asked that the Board review it to be prepared to discuss possibly using this parcel, along the high-tension wires, for a trail that could link the Clark Nature Center with Helen Randle Park. He said that the Township would have to be in touch with the Durham Lea Homeowners Association, because a small portion of their open space might be traversed by this trail. He explained that the PECO lease had been enacted in 2001, at a cost of $400. per year, and had some restrictions, including no motorized vehicles and no structures. The Township is responsible for maintenance. He would like the Board to review the agreement and discuss possible use of the parcel. He said that Horsham Township has a similar agreement with PECO and they have put in a 10-foot wide bicycle path.

The Board discussed the existing Newtown Trail system. Mr. Wert said that at different times there had been plans for trails to connect Tyler Park, Bucks County Community College and Helen Randle Park. There had been a Trail Sub-Committee, made up of Planning Commission members, and grants had been applied for. Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission had recently discussed what had been referred to as Newtown Trail Number 3, which connects Tyler Park, the Covered Bridge, the Community College and Helen Randle Park. He said that the Planning Commission intends to recommend that this trail be included in the Bucks County Transportation Improvement Program (BCTIP), which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors. He said that the trail had been included in the past, and it is hoped that if it continues to appear on the BCTIP, that at some future date County, State and Federal funding might become available.

Mr. Grosso suggested that it might be a good idea to re-activate the Trail Sub-Committee, with members of the Planning Commission and the Park and Recreation Board working together.

Mr. Davis suggested that, since the PECO agreement only deals with the 8.6-acre parcel along the edge of the Clark Nature Center, that the Board add this agreement to the next agenda for consideration of a possible trail between the Clark Nature Center and Helen Randle Park.

Roberts Ridge Park

Mr. Wert provided copies of a revised site plan prepared by Pennoni Associates based on suggestions from the Roberts Ridge Sub-Committee, working with Judith Stern Goldstein, the Township Planner. The plan shows an expanded playground area with space provided for handicapped specific playground equipment, a picnic grove and flower garden, restrooms and expanded parking facilities. He said that the parking reflects Ms. Goldstein's projections of number of cars based on usage of the facilities. It does not show specifics such as shaded areas. He said that the restrooms have been located closer to the playground, and there is additional parking in the existing lot and some parking in a lot along the Lower Dolington Road side of the park.

Mr. Clancy expressed concern about egress from this proposed lot, and asked if the lot would have right turn only egress.

Mr. Grosso suggested that the discussion be tabled until the next meeting, to allow time for the Roberts Ridge Sub-Committee to review it.

Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that she would like to see the existing parking lot expanded to an upper and lower lot bordering the boundary with the School District property, rather than along Lower Dolington Road.

Mrs. Kelly said that specifics of the plan, including location of the additional parking, would be reviewed by the Sub-Committee and Ms. Goldstein. She said that the Sub-Committee would like to provide additional parking without destroying the open fields that are on the plan for passive recreation and sledding.

Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission would probably have some suggestions regarding the addition of parking along Lower Dolington Road.

Active Recreation Sub-Committee

Mr. Clancy reported that the Sub-Committee had met with the Planning Commission to present their ideas for development of the Woll Tract for active recreation. They told the Planning Commission that they have begun gathering data on field needs for sports, and would like to build a park which will accommodate competitive sports, including some lighted fields. They told the Planning Commission that they were not sure of the process involved for land development, and had been unable to get any clear guidance. They would like to meet with the Board of Supervisors at a work session to discuss their ideas, with a goal of getting funding in the next budget cycle for a revision of the Comprehensive Plan that had been prepared in 1999.

Mr. Grosso said that the Planning Commission discussed access to the tract. The Planning Commission Solicitor will research the various easements that might exist through adjoining properties. Mr. Grosso said that until the question of access to the property is resolved, specific site planning cannot continue. He pointed out that the placement of parking and lights will depend on the location of the entrance to the property. He said that the access would be determined by PennDot, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. He said that he had requested that the Board of Supervisors advise the Sub-committee on the procedure that should be followed.

Mr. Clancy said that the project is not falling behind the timeline that the Sub-Committee had originally drawn up. The first goal is to ask the Supervisors to include the $20,000. for an updated plan in the 2004 budget. This money is already in the 2004 budget, but the Sub-Committee wants to make sure it remains in the budget. He said that the plan will take three to five years to complete. They hope to have some basketball and tennis courts ready for Spring of 2006 and the grass fields for baseball, soccer, softball and football ready in Spring of 2007.

Mr. Clancy also reported that the Planning Commission solicitor would be researching agreements between Newtown Township and Council Rock School District for use of the playing fields during school hours.

Liaison Reports

Planning Commission

Mr. Ott reported that Mr. Goodnoe had been appointed as liaison from the Board of Supervisors to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission had reviewed a plan for an expansion at Newtown Friends Village. He said that Friends Village said that they do not have to pay a fee in lieu of open space.

Mrs. Sutton explained that the Board had voted to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they waive the fee in lieu of open space for this expansion because of Friends Village's 501(C)(3) status as non-profit. She said that they asked Friends Village to consider joining their trail to the Newtown Trail. This had not been a condition of the waiver of fees. She said that the Park and Recreation Board only recommends, but the Board of Supervisors would have to vote to waive the fee.

Communication between the Planning Commission and the Park and Recreation Board was discussed. Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission would like to receive copies of the Park and Recreation Board minutes in addition to the copy that he and Mr. Deiterle receive by mail as Park and Recreation Board liaisons. It was agreed that the recording secretaries of the Planning Commission and Park and Recreation Board would provide each other with copies of the minutes for distribution to their respective boards.

Park and Recreation Director's Report

Mr. Wert reported that the Park and Recreation fall brochure would be mailed this week. He said that participation in programs is up 16%, and revenues are up 5%. He said that all of the summer camps were very successful. He discussed providing after camp programs until 5 or 6PM next summer, but thought that it might be very expensive to remain in the schools after 4:00PM. He said that he would speak to the School District to see if any deal could be made. He said that he would look into this further over the winter. He also said that he would research possibly offering short-term enrollment in the day camps offered for older children. He noted that his one-week specialty camps had been very well received, and that some families prefer to enroll in only a few weeks.

Resident Frank Mendicino said that he thought that the School District did not charge the providers of after school day care very high rates. He said that he thought that the Township should be charged at similar rates as these after school providers

Mr. Wert reported that during the Archeology Camp at the Clark Nature Center an 8-foot wide cistern was uncovered at the site. He said that the cistern had been used to feed animals, and when it was no longer needed was filled in with debris. A porcelain doll and some antique ice skates were uncovered. He said that future Archeology Camps would continue to excavate the cistern.

Member Comments

Mr. O'Neill asked if the School District would be using the fields at Staples this fall. Mr. Wert said that no agreement had ever been signed with the School District. They had thought that they would want the fields for ninth grade sports. He said that Toll Brothers had been grading the area with their topsoil, and were preparing the area for multi-purpose fields. He said that it is hoped that fields will be ready for next fall.

Mr. Clancy said that he had been approached by a Lacrosse organization about contributing to the cost of field preparation and maintenance in exchange for field use.

Mr. Wert said that it had been the feeling of Township officials that control of Township fields should be by the Township, and that in the past they have been unwilling to allow any one organization to have priority.

Mr. O'Neill said that he had not pursued the skate park because he thought that the Staples fields had been promised to the High School. He said that if that is not the case, he would like to consider this as a possible location for a skate park, either as a permanent location or a temporary location until the Woll Tract is ready.

Mr. Grosso suggested that Mr. O'Neill measure the field at Staples to see if a skate park could be included along with grass playing fields.

Resident Frank Mendicino said that he thought that use of the Staples fields should be a bargaining chip in dealing with the High School.

Member Comments

Mr. Bires told the Board that he wanted to apologize for resigning his post without first discussing it with the members. He said that it had been a pleasure and priveledge to work with the members. He submitted his letter of resignation.

The Board thanked Mr. Bires for his 13 years of service and leadership. He will be greatly missed by each of us.

Mr. O'Neill suggested that the Board invite the Little League and Girls Softball representatives to attend the October meeting to present their wish lists. He asked that the Recording Secretary write to the Presidents of the organizations inviting them to the meeting, and asking that they bring their requests in writing with copies for the Board.

Mr. Grosso moved to start the October 1, 2003 meeting at 7:00 and to invite the Council Rock Little League and Rock Girls Softball Association to present their wishlists in writing at the start of the meeting. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

Adjournment

Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:30PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary